Schools have breaks during the year for several reasons, including giving families time for vacations and spending time together, reducing costs of heating and cooling school buildings and giving teachers a chance to prepare for upcoming academic lessons. In the United States, most schools operate on a 10-month academic calendar; they offer students and teachers short breaks throughout the fall, winter and spring months and then give students and staff approximately two months off in the summer. Although many public and private schools follow this plan today, many reasons for initiating school breaks date back to the early 1900s.
Initially, most public and private schools in urban areas ran year-round. In rural areas, however, schools ran for about 250 days of the year, giving students and staff time off during the spring and fall months for planting and harvesting crops. Change came in the 19th century, however, as reformers advocated for uniform schedules between rural and urban schools. Schools ultimately adopted a 10-month calendar, giving students two months off in the summer.
In urban and rural areas, keeping students out of school buildings eliminated the need for costly air conditioning. Students attending schools in urban areas had time to travel with their families for summer vacations, while rural schools eliminated costs of having less productive academic summer sessions, according to StateImpact. Lastly, many doctors advocated breaks, asserting that giving children time to relax prompted mental rejuvenation.